Archive for April, 2014

Nothing over $45!…but is it any good?

I’ve recently returned from another trip down-under, this time to the Yarra Valley where I caught up with Luke Lambert (of Luke Lambert), Timo Mayer (of Mayer) and Syd Bradford (of Thick as Thieves). It was late March and all the grapes were in, with yields down but quality high being the general consensus. I also had a chance to try some of Timo Mayer’s newly bottled Pinot Noir being the 2013 Bloody Hill, 2013 Close Planted and 2013 The Doktor. You’re in for a treat when these hit Singapore (watch this space) – each one has a different treatment with no whole bunch, part whole bunch and full on whole bunch treatment. Sensational.

If you missed some of Syd Bradford’s 2013 Thick as Thieves The Show Pony Sauvignon Blanc (Halliday 96), I’ve still got some in Melbourne and it can come up in mid-May. Just give me a hoy at /

Luke Lambert mentioned that he’s no longer making the Reserve Syrah but according to Jeremy Pringle (, after you’ve tried the 2012 Syrah, you won’t be complaining. I’ve still got a little over a case of the 2010 Reserve in Melbourne so it can come up in May too if you’re interested.

It was then time to put the old Rangie on to the Spirit of Tasmania and head south, real south. But first port of call was to see Robert and Rita Richter at Grey Sands, just on the western edge of the Tamar Valley. Unlike the Yarra Valley, picking in the northern part of Tasmania was still a month away according to Robert. According to Jeremy Oliver, Grey Sands make the best Pinot Gris in Australia so I brought a bottle back for myself. Not a big hit with the wife (she doesn’t like Pinot Gris, period) but I’m with Jeremy Oliver on this one. Rich, rounded, with no need for an apology for plonking it on a table amongst friends. Not cheap, but nothing hand made is.

And then it was about as far south as it’s probably possible to make wine in Tasmania, nearly an hour below Hobart in the Huon Valley. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Tasmanian brand 42 Degrees South; well, this is 43 degrees south! Kate Hill (of Kate Hill Wines) has set up a “new” winery there and is moving into the next stage of the development of her product and her brand. I say “new” because it’s actually in an old apple packing shed, and what a setting it makes. Those old orchardists knew a thing or too about keeping things cool without the need for expensive air-conditioning, and now Kate is the beneficiary of that. Expect a cellar-door in due course.

A visit to the well-known Panorama Vineyards (well worth ducking in for a chat) and a relatively early Sunday morning at Home Hill. I’ve seen a few vineyards in my time but I’ve never seen anything quite as focused as the vineyard at Home Hill. Owner Terry Bennett seeks perfection in the vines and the grapes and a wander through the vineyard with Terry revealed both his enthusiasm for Pinot Noir, and the phenomenal effort that goes into producing exceptional quality fruit. It’s paying dividends in a big way with the 2011 and 2012 Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir winning awards left right and centre, the 2012 taking Top Gold at the 2014 Tasmania Wine Show and recently getting 96 points from Huon Hooke. There’s only 100 cases made and I hope to be able to confirm that I’ve got a couple of cases soon. Oh, they probably won’t be picking until end of April, maybe even first week of May!

Finally it was lunch with Greg and Michelle Melick at their Pressing Matters vineyard in Coal River Valley. I’m a big fan of Pressing Matters Pinot Noir and Riesling, and you might still find their Pinot Noir listed at Tetsuya’s Waku Ghin restaurant in Singapore.

It’s a tough life but someone has to do it.


OK, so whilst I’ve been typing this, the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller Wine (Apr/May) lobbed on my desk. Wow, does Tassie get a mention or what?

Here’s a snapshot of Tasmanian wines in the New Releases:

2012 Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir – 96 – yep, should be a tiny amount on its way to Tiger Wines soon.

2012 Freycinet Vineyards Pinot Noir95 – I’ve got 20 bottles in Melbourne. Want some?

2012 Waterton Shiraz95 – Yep, some of that on it’s way to Tiger Wines.

2012 Heemskerk Chardonnay97 – I’m told Accolade won’t bring Heemskerk to Singapore. Lobby your local MP! If you’re interested, I can price some up for you.

2012 Pressing Matters R9 Riesling96 – I’ve got 12 bottles of the 2013.

2012 Freycinet Vineyards Chardonnay95 – a few bottles in Singapore, 2 cases in Melbourne.

2013 Waterton Riesling95 – Should be in stock soon.

In addition, the 2012 Burge Family Winemakers The Homestead Cabernet gets 92 points (6 bottles in Melbourne); the 2013 Burge Family Winemakers Olive Hill Semillon gets 90 points (12 bottles in Melbourne); and the 2010 Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Nebbiolo gets 90 points (12 bottles in Melbourne).

Possibly easier for you to find these wines in Singapore than in Australia!


Nothing over $45! …but is it any good?

? / Penfolds / Koonunga Hill / South Australia / Shiraz / $26 at Cellarbrations – Not a great start. Look, $26 is getting to be entry point what with the new tax and all, and this is definitely entry point. It sells at Dan Murphy’s in Australia at A$9.40, and believe it or not that makes the price here of $26 not too bad. It could be quite a good buy – but it isn’t if you believe raters like Campbell Mattinson who can only drag out 84 points for it. He says it’s a “quaffing bistro red” but other commentators on his website wonder why Penfolds makes it at all. The Cab Shiraz is OK apparently, but the straight Shiraz, well, that’s another story. If it ticks your box. I’m giving it BBI ♥♥

2011 / Coriole / Estate Grown / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $44.94 at winesonline. If you go to the website, it’ll show you the price at $42, only it isn’t. I do sometimes hope that someone from the IRAS reads this blog and picks up on those who continue to quote prices without GST. I don’t buy from places that can’t get the GST right, but that’s up to you. How’s the wine? 92 from James Halliday is acceptable, and the pricing (after GST) is about right with a retail of A$30. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Torzi Mathews / Schist Rock / Eden Valley / Shiraz / $35 at Wine Directions – We’re getting into better value territory here, and with a rating of 91 from Mike Bennie, it seems a safe bet. In fact he said it’s “unnervingly good at the price”, which in Australia is A$18. Good buying. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2012 / Majella / The Musician / Coonawarra / Cabernet Shiraz / $35 at Wine Exchange Asia – This is A$18 in Australia too, and comes in at $35 too! How about that. Slightly higher rating than the Torzi Mathews with 92 from Campbell Mattinson and Tyson Stelzer. Much of a muchness. BBI♥♥♥♥

NV / Shottesbrooke / 1337 Blanc de Blanc / McLaren Vale / Sparkling  at Wine Directions – I don’t want to be stating the obvious to the oenophiles amongst us but for others, blanc de blanc means 100% Chardonnay. Yeh, interesting this one. It rates OK at 90 by Gary Walsh; nothing startling but OK. It’s the comparative price that kicks it into the 4.5 star bracket. Retails at A$23, so $35 is looking pretty good. But, and it’s a big but, if you take the ratings from Huon Hooke (84) and James Halliday (86), this would drop like the price of a Singapore condo into 2 star territory. You choose your rater. Huon Hooke and it’s ♥♥ stars; benefit of the doubt with Gary Walsh and it’s…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Greystone / Waipara Valley / Sauvignon Blanc / $40 at Wine Exchange Asia – Good to see a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc coming up trumps. We can say that outside of Australia. About as popular with winemakers in Australia as foxes and rabbits are to farmers. Feral introduced pests, just like Kiwi Sav Blanc. We’re a long way away from all of that so we can enjoy it without guilt. Raymond Chan gives it 19/20, it retails for NZ$22, price is fair, rating is good. If you’re from Melbourne, you’d know “Don – ishz good”. BBI ♥♥♥♥



I’ve been driving past the Punt Road winery in the Yarra Valley for over 20 years and have always wondered why it’s called Punt Road, when there’s no Punt Road in the Yarra Valley. The only Punt Road I knew was the one that skirts the eastern side of the MCG before crossing over the Yarra River and heading up to the oh-so-expensive suburb of South Yarra. The road’s choked with trucks and cars and lined by some establishments of dubious repute.

But it turns out that the Punt Roads are one and the same. If you have a look at Punt Road’s website ( you’ll find their story. Seems there was punt on Punt Road (doh!) but the surprising thing is that there used to be vineyards where those mega-mansions of South Yarra now stand. Hard to believe. Have a look at the photos below which come from Punt Road’s website.




BTW, if anyone has information on the following vineyards, I’d be delighted to receive:

Dawson’s vineyard at Whittlesea; Pilloud’s vineyard at Geelong; Young’s vineyard at Kanmantoo; Gillard’s vineyard at Clarendon; Peter Pola vineyards at Great Western.


The earliest plantings of vines in New Zealand were probably in 1817 by Rev. Samuel Marsden, a missionary and important figure in the early development of agriculture. James Busby, the pioneer of Australian viticulture, carried vines with him too when he arrived as resident British Agent in New Zealand, and vines were also planted by early French immigrants who settled at Akaroa and Hawke’s Bay.” – The Wine Styles of New Zealand, Wine & Spirit Buying Guide, October 1979


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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907